They don’t come much bigger than this in continental football. The UEFA Champions League final is incomparable when it comes to European club football, the most prestigious competition that any team can win. The showpiece game this year will be held at the Stade de France in Paris, as Liverpool and Real Madrid prepare themselves for this one last showdown.
Heading into the 2022 UEFA Champions League final, oddsmakers at the majority of online bookmakers value Liverpool as the slight favourites, with prices ranging from 2.00 to 2.15 to lift the iconic trophy. Meanwhile, they are somewhat conservative regarding the chances of Real Madrid, tipped at odds between 3.25 and 3.60 to reign supreme. Current odds range between 3.40 and 3.75 for the teams to be tied after ninety minutes.
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What the managers are saying
As has become habitual ahead of any major final, the Liverpool and Real Madrid managers have been sharing their thoughts. The overall sensation ahead of the UEFA Champions League final is one of enthusiasm, determination and desire to succeed, accompanied by a healthy portion of mutual respect for one another.
— Real Madrid C.F. 🇬🇧🇺🇸 (@realmadriden) May 24, 2022
“The team are relaxed, there’s a good atmosphere and the concerns will creep in as we get closer to the match,” acknowledged Real Madrid head coach Carlo Ancelotti via the official club website, aware that a little nervousness is only natural. “Getting to the final is a success in itself, with all the competition around. The fact Madrid has made the final seven times over the last eight years is a huge success,” he pointed out. “We can win another one now,” underlined the experienced Italian.
Real Madrid has arguably had the most difficult path to the final, making astonishing comebacks to beat Paris Saint-Germain in the quarter-finals, then Manchester City in the semi-finals. “We have deserved to make the final given what we’ve managed to do, especially in terms of our commitment,” underlined Ancelotti. Confident his team can continue to defy the odds, “nobody has been able to match our desire and motivation,” he concluded.
For his part, Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp believes that his team has evolved superbly in recent years, ahead of making their third Champions League final in five seasons. “We came back and we had to learn how to win. We had to learn how to be at our top level of focus and concentration in a game like this,” he observed, remembering the 3-1 defeat against Real Madrid at the 2018 final in Kyiv.
The boss hopes we can make the most of our experiences in major finals ahead of Saturday’s #UCL final.
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) May 24, 2022
“I’m really happy with how the boys have developed over the years,” Klopp highlighted, confident his team will be ready for the big test ahead in Paris. Although both teams have seen players come and go, there will be many familiar faces, particularly in the Liverpool side. “The group has been pretty together since then. This hasn’t happened a lot but some players are playing a third Champions League final, which is absolutely incredible,” he pointed out with praise.
Contrasting comments from the players
Having scored many of the key goals that helped their teams to reach the final, there has already been plenty of media focus on Mohamed Salah and Karim Benzema, two of the major protagonists throughout the 2021-22 campaign for each side. However, some of their comments are quite contrasting, ahead of what will undoubtedly be a thrilling match in Paris as they lock horns to lift the iconic Champions League trophy.
Injured early in the 2018 final between the two sides, losing Egyptian forward Salah was a huge blow to Liverpool’s chances. “We have a score to settle,” the 29-year-old posted on social media once Real Madrid were confirmed as their opponents in the final. “I want to play Madrid. We lost in the final against them, so I want to play against them and hopefully win it from them as well,” he insisted, keen to get revenge for the 2018 final defeat.
Nevertheless, for 34-year-old Ream Madrid frontman Benzema, there was no desire to enter into any mind games. “I don’t feel any pressure, we’re going to enjoy it,” he assured with utmost calm. “We’ll focus on how we can play. We’ve already defeated three clubs that were favorites to win this Champions League,” assured the Frenchman, unconcerned about Liverpool being tagged as favourites to win this time around.